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Negotiating strategically

Today, we did a role-play practice on negotiating tactfully. The setting is in an apartment building: since several days ago, my neighbor (played by Erin) has been practicing the piano for hours on end in the evening every day. I find it annoying and decide to talk to her about it. While I approach this matter with courtesy, my neighbor also reciprocates with thoughtfulness. Though she points out her problem with rescheduling, we finally figure out a plan that works for both of us.

The take-away message is that when we need to negotiate a deal, we'd better think in the other person's shoes. Specifically, we are advised to follow these steps:

1) Small talk to open the dialogue (asking about how the neighbor is doing at work, showing empathy for her own problems--->establishing initial emotional connections)
2) Transition into the topic (mentioning that I have noticed the piano practice and complementing the neighbor on her progress--->directing our conversation onto the intended subject without making the other party defensive)
3) Raise the problem, but as nicely as possible (finding it distracting for my study--->Being courteous shows my willingness to negotiate in a fair manner)
4) Suggest a solution (advising the neighbor to practice more during daytime on weekends rather than in evenings during work days--->displaying my sincerity to work out a plan that can accommodate the needs of both of us)
5) Figure out where we can meet regarding my proposal (Making compromise where required--->doing this helps to sort the problem out eventually)

Apparently, productive negotiations involve a lot of give and take. It is rather unwise to simply stress one's own needs since doing so can surely put off the other party and thus shut the door for further communications. This is especially true when one raises an issue which requires the other party's compromise in some measure.



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